17:48 GMT +321 January 2020
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    On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged the World Bank to “graduate” China from its loan programs for low-income countries, saying that he opposes the bank’s push for Beijing lending.

    The World Bank has approved a plan on annually providing China with $1 billion to $1.5 billion in low-interest loans through June 2025 despite US Treasury Department objections.

    The plan was published after the World Bank's board "expressed broad support" for the international lender's engagement in China's structural and environmental reforms.

    The blueprint stipulates that lending will “gradually decline” from the previous five-year average of $1.8 billion.

    The bank said that “lending levels may fluctuate up and down from year to year due to normal pipeline management based on project readiness”.

    It pointed out that China is interested in continued financing from the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development division “as platforms for reform, institution building and knowledge transfer.”

    The goal of the five-year plan’s loans is to promote market and fiscal reforms, boost greener growth and increase citizens’ access to health and social services, according to the statement.

    Mnuchin Opposes World Bank’s China Lending Plan

    The remarks followed US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stating that the Treasury’s representative on the World Bank’s board had objected to its plan on China lending.

    Speaking at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Thursday, Mnuchin said that he wanted the lender to “graduate” China from its loan programs for low- and middle-income countries.

    He was echoed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassle, who slammed the World Bank’s China plan by claiming that the bank, “using American tax dollars, should not be lending to wealthy countries that violate the human rights of their citizens and attempt to dominate weaker countries either militarily or economically.”

    Grassle referred to alleged human rights abuses in detention camps for Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China. Beijing has repeatedly denied the existence of such camps, claiming that the unsubstantiated accusations are connected to what are said to be vocational colleges set up as part of counterterrorist efforts in the region.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying, in turn, hailed Beijing’s partnership with the World Bank, signalling readiness “to make an effort and work together [with the bank]  to summarise and share China’s success and experience in poverty alleviation with other developing countries, to realise a long-term sustainable development for these countries.”

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    reforms, loans, lending, World Bank, China, United States
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